To appease Nature, spirits and ancestors in ancient temples or ancestral homes (Tharavadu), artistes who’re believed to be the incarnate of God, perform a performing art form that is quite popular in the northern districts of Kerala.
This ritual dance form is a mix of art & ritualism. It embodies myth, dance and music & is called as Theyyam (Teyyam, Theyyattam or Thira). The word Theyyam comes from Deivam that stands for God in Malayalam.
Theyyams dress themselves in predominantly colour red for facial make up as well as in dazzling costumes, marked by headgears of varying size whereas each self made costume & facial make-up vary according to the role and myth of the forms.
In the Malabar region of Kerala, the districts of Kannur and Kasaragod this art form has more dominance & from December to May, the region come alive with the sound of anklets, folk musical instruments & the thrill in the air.
During the course of a Theyyam performance, the dancer along with the drummers recites a story in the form of ritual songs, of the deity to be propitiated. This performance is backed by playing folk musical instruments like chenda, tuti, kuzhal and veekni, played in a certain rhythm. So, Theyyam is a performance is a combination of playing of musical instruments, vocal recitations, dance, and peculiar make-up and costumes.